Lately when I’ve walked past the Gateway store on Shattuck, I’ve been tempted to go in and play with Windows XP. But every time I stopped myself, and decided I’d come back later wearing an Apple t-shirt and ask a lot of difficult questions of the poor sales representatives. ;-)
Monthly Archive for October, 2001
So my other roommate bought the Star Wars Episode I DVD, and we watched the documentaries and we watched the bloopers and we enjoyed it. All in all, it’s a very nice package full of content that I think was worth the two-year wait for the DVD. BUT!
Tonight my other roommate and I were talking about the DVD, and I mentioned today’s Slashdot Story which said that Episode I DVD owners would be able to watch the Episode II trailer on “the web.” We wondered how they were going to restrict viewage to owners of the DVD, so we went in his room and played with the DVD and ended up at dvd.starwars.com. dvd.starwars.com looks like something targeted as the home of extra content for DVD owners.
Curious how exactly they were restricting the site, I went to dvd.starwars.com with my PowerBook, and found a list of requirements — most notably was the one which reads “Viewing the Exclusive Star Wars DVD site requires the following: Microsoft Internet Explorer 5+ running on a PC with Windows 95 or higher.”
Hi. So me, the Mac user, is left out in the bloomin’ cold.
And to add insult to injury, the video content at dvd.starwars.com is exclusively in QuickTime, and the window that spawned to play the Episode II stills trailer featured a giant Apple logo along with “Think Different.”
It’s been nearly a week since the iPod was announced, and the more I’ve thought about it, the more convinced I’ve become that it will solve of my music woes.
What are my music woes, exactly? Well, most of the time I only listen to music when I’m walking somewhere. When I’m at home, I’ll either listen to the TV in the background while doing something not-so-important or I need silence while doing something a little more important. So I’ve got a Rio 500, with a total of 128 megabytes of memory. If I shuffled my music regularly, this would be a more than adequate amount of storage.
Now, if I listened to music with iTunes regularly, I’d probably gradually queue up songs to transfer to the Rio, and when the music on the Rio got tired I’d have some new tunes ready to put into the rotation. But I don’t listen to music with iTunes, which means that changing the music on my Rio is both a time consuming and frustrating prospect.
Here’s my work flow when I’m updating the music on my Rio:
- Reconstruct the playlists that currently on the Rio.
- Delete the songs that I’m absolutely sick of.
- Add songs that I’ve thought about in the last couple of days that I wanted to listen to.
- Start scrolling at random through my iTunes playlist and adding any songs that catch my eye until each playlists is at about 63 megs.
- Sort the two playlists so that they’ll both fit on the memory cards (it’s not a contiguous 128 megs — it’s two separate 64 megs)
- Wait about a couple of minutes for iTunes to erase the Rio.
- Wait about five minutes for each playlist to copy to the Rio.
- Hope that the playlists weren’t too big, because iTunes doesn’t preflight the copy by making sure that the music will actually fit on the Rio, and when it tries to copy too much music the Rio, iTunes, or my USB bus (I don’t know which) gets wedged and I have to restart both my computer and my Rio and try the copy again, after resorting the music trying to make both playlists smaller.
In other words, it’s a very time consuming process, that usually takes me about an hour to do. In fact, it’s so time consuming, and I hate doing it so much, that I haven’t changed the music on my Rio since I got my PowerBook back (However, changing the music on my Rio was the third thing I did when I got my PowerBook back. I’d been stuck with the same playlist on my Rio for the 3.5 weeks I didn’t have the PowerBook plus the 4 weeks before I broke the PowerBook, and I was going Absolutely Cuckoo).
So I’ve been listening to the same combination of Cake, Weezer, Soul Coughing, TMBG, and The Magnetic Fields for more than a month now, and I’m getting very tired of it. And to make matters worse, the last couple of nights while up late I started listening to music with iTunes instead of watching TV, and I noticed for the first time that I’ve only been listening to the same 3% of my music for the last month.
It was that realization that really cemented in my mind that I need an iPod. With an iPod, my music rotation process would be simply:
- Plug iPod into PowerBook before I go to sleep so it can charge.
- Unplug iPod the next morning and I’ll magically have my new music if I’d added any to my iTunes playlist.
Basically, it’s the integration and simplification that the iPod gets me that I’m sold on. I’d buy an iPod if it had the same capacity as my Rio as long as it had the same synchronization functions (Well, it’d have to sync a random playlist instead of everything. And there are some other features I’d like to see on the iPod, which Kevin talked about at length (I don’t want exactly what he describes, but there are good ideas to be had).)
The point is, an iPod is going to make my music life much happier. Hmm… I wonder how much of the mood I’ve been in for the last month is direct related to the songs I’ve had on my Rio for the last month… Did I mention to it every day, everywhere I walk?
Of course, I could probably dampen my desire for an iPod by simply rotating my Rio playlist… But I’m not sure I want to make myself not want an iPod at this point.
Tonight while browsing Yahoo!, I came across an ad which told me “Taco Bell is giving away 6,755 Xbox™ systems.”
“6,755?” I mused. “Isn’t that something like… half of the Xbox launch numbers?” ;-)
Well, maybe they’re just trying to create a shortage, so they can repeat the success of Sony’s PS2 over-hype under-deliver machine. Eh, we’ll see.
My anticipation for the Gamecube is building, and being the list monger I am, I felt like breaking down my anticipation. And I think these are some rather revealing lists, really.
- Super Smash Brothers Melee – This is my number 1 most anticipated game, and that’s all there is to say about that. *
- Rogue Leader: Rogue Squadron 2 – This game looks fantastic, and though I don’t like generic shooters, Star Wars shooters are a completely different story. *
- Wave Race: Blue Storm – The original Wave Race was the first game I played on the N64, and I played it quite a lot. Basically, I’m a sucker for quality racing games. *
- Pikmin – So cute, and so original! *
- Luigi’s Mansion – This game looks to have good graphics and original gameplay, and besides, I’m like Luigi way more than I like Mario. *
- Game Boy Advance
- Golden Sun – This is looking to be a fantastic little GBA RPG. *
- Street Fighter Alpha 3 – Holy Hell! How did they fit this game onto the GBA?? As long as the reviewers confirm that it lives up to the legacy, I’m so there.
- Sonic the Hedgehog Advance – I like Sonic, and I like the Game Boy Advance.
- Super Mario Advance 2 – Wowie, a remake of the SNES’s Super Mario World for the GBA? I can’t believe how much the GBA is capable of.
- Halo – This is a Bungiegame, damnit. Oh, the anguish! **
- Final Fantasy X – This game looks to have great graphics, and good god, it’s got some of the hottest final fantasy chicks yet!
- Metal Gear Solid 2 – Tactical Espionage Action! Based on the demo, this game can’t possibly go wrong. *
- Soul Calibur 2 – You know, this is a cross platform game, and I fully intend to buy it for the Gamecube when the time comes. I just put it here because my PS2 release calendar is a little bleak, and I didn’t want to bump any of the GCN games coming out in the first two weeks for something that might be coming out before my birthday.
- Xenosaga – So this might be out before next Christmas, but whenever the time comes, I want to play it.
- Myth 3: The Wolf Age – It doesn’t look like the non-bungie developers broke the game, so I’m looking forward to it. All the same, I’ll read the reviews before I buy, just to make sure. *
- Uhh… ***
Now, admittedly, I could have filled in five games for the xbox, but Halo is the only xbox game I really feel a burning desire to play at the moment. I tried to limit the lists to be the games that I really want to play. Of course, the Gamecube list is much longer, so I limited it to the top five (I’m also anticipating Super Monkey Ball, among a few others) games coming out before Christmas (otherwise Zelda would have bumped Luigi off the list, for example).
Now what’s the point here? First of all, I’m obviously a little more interested in one console than the others. But second, check out IGN’s top 10 year 1 PS2 games. All of the games I’d include in my top 10 list are in their list, except several of the games in their list are so obviously a stretch (having to include that many sports/racing games in such a list is just a bad sign), and my top 10 list would have been a top five list instead. What’s interesting, though, is if I make a retroactive PS2 anticipation list:
- Zone of Enders/MGS2 Demo – Z.O.E. turned out to have been a huge disappointment, and the MGS 2 demo was way too short.
- Gran Turismo 3 – Good game, but I found it frustrating.
- Star Wars Episode 1: Starfighter – This is the game that got me to buy my PS2. It wasn’t bad, but I haven’t played it since I beat it.
- Devil May Cry – I only really started anticipating this game about a week before it came out, after reading some advance reviews. For some reason, the early previews didn’t do it for me.
- ICO – I didn’t want to play it until I’d read some reviews. However, it’s a game I would have only rented if I weren’t borrowing it from my co-worker. Not something I’d want to buy.
- Onimusha – Another one I didn’t want to play until I read the reviews, and once again, I only plan to rent it.
- Silent Hill 2 – And another one I didn’t even know about before it was out.
The moral here is: There are almost as many games I’m anticipating for the Gamecube that come out in the Gamecube’s first month as I wanted to play in the whole first year of the PS2′s existence. (Though I fully acknowledge that SSX is a great game, I didn’t actually desire to play it. It came as part of my bundle, and so it was only an accident that I discovered its greatness) For that matter, if you only count the games I anticipated ahead of time, the GCN wins over the PS2 hands down. Of course, we’ll see how these GCN games live up to my anticipation, because my PS2 anticipation was pretty misplaced. Just check out my top 5 year 1 PS2 games:
- Gran Turismo 3
- Devil May Cry
- Oh, wait, I’ve only played 4 good PS2 games so far… =) (I haven’t played Onimusha or Silent Hill 2 yet. Gotta deal with ICO and Devil May Cry first.)
Hm, I wonder what’s going to suffer more: My bank account or my final grades. Hm. This so isn’t good.
* – due to be released by Christmas. Holy hell there are a lot of them. I have no clue how I’m going to make time for all of these.
** – due to be released by Christmas, but there’s no way I’ll be playing it any time soon. Damn you Microsoft. You go to hell and you die. You stole Halo and now I have to wait for a Mac port, if it ever happens.
*** – Mac games? Haha, yeah right… There’s a reason I’m such; console whore: Mac games don’t exist.
I’m so amused by this perfectly correct, and yet so very undesirable crond behavior:
Date: Sun, 28 Oct 2001 01:59:00 -0700 (PDT) Subject: another nightly cron report Date: Sun, 28 Oct 2001 01:59:00 -0800 (PST) Subject: another nightly cron report
Well, looks like it’s time to start running that nightly report at some other time…
First up, Devil May Cry. This game is rated M for Mature, and it more than deserves that rating. This game is gratuitously violent, with a red-trenchcoat wearing, sword wielding, shotgun toting son of a demon on a mission to stop demons from making a mess of things. Sure, this game probably won’t give video games a good name with parent groups, but good god is it well done, and it’s so cathartic. I got this game on Wednesday, which was conveniently the day of my midterm. So after getting angry at my midterm, I went home and took out my frustration by slashing an enemy into the air and blowing him to pieces with a shotgun. Oh it’s some good stuff, let me tell you. It’s pure action, and the only flaw I’ve found so far is that the camera is a little wandery for my tastes. I repeatedly found myself wanting to hit Z and center the camera behind my character, a la Zelda 64.
And then there’s ICO, which is simply breathtaking. It reminds me of an old Sierra game, with it’s puzzle solving aspects and awe inspiring visuals. You play a young boy trying to escape from a castle filled with some shadow monsters, and your job is to figure out how to get your character and the girl you meet along the way out of the castle (she’s not as physical able as you, so you have to find different paths for her than you used for yourself. Now, I’ve found two flaws in this game so far. First of all, the occasional action sequences where the shadow monsters try to take away the girl and you have to fight them off with a stick are rather irritating. The stick goes *pff* when you strike them, and really, if I wanted to kill some monsters, I’d be playing Devil May Cry and hearing the satisfying sounds of a sword slash and a shotgun blast. Second, the camera is a little wandery for my tastes. I constantly found myself wanting to hit Z and center the camera behind my character, a la Zelda 64.
I rather badly cut my thumb tonight, and the constant pressure I had to keep on it made it more than a little hard to type. Luckilly, last week I discovered Twerq, which emulates a half keyboard in software in OS X. (When you hold down the space bar, the keyboard is mirrored across itself, so typing space+; produces an a, while space+q produces a p, and so on.) I really love this functionality, and it kept me working tonight despite the thumb injury. However, I can’t leave it installed full time because I type way too fast, and I accidentally hit space plus a letter at the same time way too often, and twerq just increases my typo count by tenfold. It’d be super slick if the functionality could be toggled without a reboot, but you can’t win them all. There are a few other cool hacks on that Twerq page, including uControl, which makes capslock a second control key (though it’s unable to disable the toggling of the capslock led).
Wow, this is really nice. It turns out that the iPod has an easter egg in the form of a hidden game of breakout (accessible by holding the center button for several seconds on the about screen). This is especially cool because breakout’s historical significance for Apple.
And on the subject of the iPod, here’s a nice article discussing the situation.
And at this point, I’m more or less sold on getting one. I can’t wait.
So after checking my mail this afternoon, I’m left wondering: Who is Joe Thomas, and why was his Girlfriends LAcatalog delivered to my apartment?
So the last time I mentioned WindowShade X, I noted that it showed promise, but it just didn’t do what I needed yet.
And now, less than a week later, WindowShade X does do everything I want of it. It has both the ability to WindowShade and minimize to the Dock and make a window transparent, and it has preferences for configuring the behavior, and all in all, it’s more than worth the $7 now. I don’t know what ever deluded me into thinking I was fine without window shading in OS X.
But it doesn’t matter, because now I’ve got Window Shading again, and all is well. Try it out for an hour and you’ll never be able to go back.
Today, Apple introduced the iPod. Let’s get the problems I have with the iPod out of the way first:
- Apple over-hyped it as being a “revolutionary digital device,” but it’s just an mp3 player. Admittedly, it’s a damn good mp3 player, but it’s just an mp3 player all the same.
- The name “iPod” is a lot stupid.
- It doesn’t have the ability to record audio.
- It doesn’t ship for 3-4 weeks.
- And it’s going to set me back $400.
Yeah, I’m already sold on this as being a replacement for my aging Rio 500. What does the iPod do above and beyond my Rio?
- Well, it’s got something like 40 times the storage of my Rio (80 if you don’t count the external memory I added).
- It has a built in battery, so I’ll stop blowing money on AAs.
- It automatically syncs with iTunes. I update the 128 megs in my Rio something like once a month, just because it’s such a pain (USB is ass slow, and picking out 128 megs of mp3s from my many many gigs usually takes me about an hour). Not only would iPod mean more music for me, but it would mean more regularly updated music for me.
- It’s got a much bigger screen with a better and more featureful interface.
- All that, and it’s only about .5 an inch bigger taller than my Rio, .03 of an inch thicker, and .07 of an inch narrower.
- The iTunes 2 icon is incredibly subtle and cool.
- And in all honesty, it’s Apple.
The only reason I didn’t order an iPod today is because it doesn’t ship for 3-4 weeks, and I suppose that delay gives me plenty of time to decide how important audio recording really is to me. For just playing music as I walk between classes, etc, the iPod wins hands down.
And to make matters worse, last week Apple feature bumped the PowerBook G4 and the iBook. The machines were so updated, in fact, that if these revisions had been available a month ago, I would have probably bought one instead of getting my PowerBook fixed. In fact, if I hadn’t had to pay $800 to get my PowerBook fixed a month ago, I’d be seriously considering buying one of these machines right now. But, that $800 investment I made in my PowerBook G3 means that I’m going to force myself to wait at least one more revision before I actually upgrade.
So, what’s so great about these revisions? Well, the iBook is not only up to 600 mhz, but it also finally features a 100 mhz bus! But that’s nothing compared to what they did to the TiBook… Well, let’s look at the $2999 model. Above and beyond the previous top of the line the 500 mhz TiBook, the system comes with a 133mhz system bus, a 667 mhz processor, a larger battery, a better power supply, a better graphics card, more video memory, way more system memory, gigabit ethernet, and a bigger hard drive. The only, and I repeat only thing that I can’t get in that system is a combo DVD/CDRW drive, and that’s something that I expect the next revision to have. But that $2999 TiBook is quite a powerful machine at quite a good price. And the TiBook now offers enough of an upgrade over my Pismo that I’d be willing to give up my dual batteries for the increased power.
So. No laptop upgrade. I’d love to upgrade, but I’m exercising will power here, and forcing myself to hold out for the next revision. But! I’m 90% sure I’ll be getting an iPod once they ship. And conveniently, I’ll probably be able to sell my Rio 500 to subsidize the purchase. =)
Or hm, maybe I should wait for the first iPod revision… Ah, decisions!